The Houston Astros just clinched the American League West — but that’s not the only thing pitcher Joe Smith has to celebrate.
On Thursday, Smith and his wife, TNT basketball broadcaster Allie LaForce, announced that their charity is giving 24 families a chance at having happy, healthy babies.
Their organization, HelpCureHD, supports families affected by Huntington’s disease — a hereditary neurodegenerative disease Smith’s mother is battling. Last February, the couple spoke to The Post about their decision to use in vitro fertilization with genetic testing instead of conceiving naturally — a process more families are using to prevent passing genetic diseases onto their children.
The couple wanted to raise money to help other families afford the process. After they launched their organization last winter, 24 couples with Huntington’s in their family applied for assistance. On Friday, LaForce announced that all 24 of them will be receiving the treatment for free.
LaForce, 30, posted a video on Instagram sharing the good news with some of the families.
“Joe and I are overwhelmed with hope and joy that we were able to fund ALL 24 families that applied through HelpCureHD.com to have HD Free babies!! Here are some of the precious moments when our brave families found out,” she wrote.
The process, otherwise known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis with in vitro fertilization (PGD-IVF), normally costs between $ 35,000 to $ 40,000 but the sports power couple launched a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and Houston Fertility Institute to defray the costs of the pricey procedure.
Smith’s mother, Lee, was diagnosed in 2012 with the complicated disease that affects patients’ movements, cognitive abilities and psychiatric state. It has sometimes been described as a mix of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and more than 30,000 people in the United States suffer from it. His maternal grandmother passed away from the disease in 2006.
Those affected by Huntington’s have a 50 percent chance of passing it onto their children. Symptoms normally manifest between the ages of 30 to 50, and there is no cure. People can undergo predictive testing to learn if they have the disease.
Smith has decided to stay in the dark — but the couple didn’t want to take that chance with their own children.
“We have shifted our focus to IVF, because I believe it is a cure,” Smith told The Post. “There’s nothing close right now that will take the [Huntington’s Disease] gene out or get rid of it completely.”
The pair — who embarked on the journey of having children last January — also received some good news of their own this week.
After their latest round of PGD-IVF, five healthy embryos made it to maturation, which means they will move onto the next stage in the hopes of ultimately having a healthy pregnancy.
“We will be praying, and ask for your prayers as well, that all 5 make it back healthy and ready to transfer,” she wrote on Instagram. “We are at peace knowing that God’s blessings are abundant.”